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Horse DNA: the "Spanish Mustangs" that aren't related to the Spanish horse

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Help me out here.

The mtDNA analyses, done by a German institute for molecularbiological research, show that some American mustangs and the Sorraia horse, are genetically related. A Sorraia is not the domesticated horses the Spanish used, its a wild primitive South Iberian horse, which live in an almost inaccessible lowlands of the Portuguese river Sorraia. Hardy Oelke’s book "Born Survivors on the Eve of Extinction“ resp. the German edition "Das Vermächtnis des Columbus“, he suggests, with the unlikelyhood that they came from the Spanish, that Columbus may have already shipped Sorraias to the New World.

The Sorraia is part of a genetic cluster that is largely separated from most Iberian breeds. They link this cluster with Konik and Mongolian horses. The Mongolian wild horse was once believed to be the ancestor to all our domestic horses. This theory is disseminated as fact in most books and articles today. However, Japanese geneticists have documented in 1995 through mtDNA analyses that the Mongolian wild horse, or Przewalsi's horse, is NOT an ancestor of domestic horses.

Whatever wild ancestors there were of our domestic stock, the Mongolian wild horse, or Przewalski's horse, stems from the same root as all other horses we know.

Some zoologists and paleo-zoologists think that there were several forms of wild horses that our domestic horses derived from. One such form is still around in the British Exmoor pony, another one in the Sorraia horse. The Sorraia horse is most likely a direct descendant of an ancestral form, the closest thing we have left to that form.




I found this interesting in light of maklelan's explanations of a theory about how the American horses might not have gone extinct, how the American Indians have long held that they had horses well before Columbus, but they're generally dismissed as legends, and their ancient art depicting horses as merely creative expressions. How the horses imported by the Spanish were Hispano-Arabian horses, well breed, and are very, very rarely multicolored, especially among careful breeders. The few they did used as pack horses, they did bring two "painted" horses in 1519, those two were the only ones, and there's no indication they were left there or used for breeding. The early Spanish claim to have kept their mares from the wild, and only sent stallions on long expeditions. Just how did all these random stallions manage to populate an entire continent with horses so quickly without any mares?

French fur trappers who reached the Western Plains around the 1660's and found the Plains tribes with well-developed horse technology and riding breeds of horses then unknown to Europeans, like the Appaloosa. The Indian horses were small and multicolored, which is hard to explain, its as if the Spaniards dropped off cartloads of their much larger monochrome horses in Mexico and they wandered up to the middle of the US, and de-evolved into small primitive horses over the next 100 years.

Frank Gilbert Roe, in his book The Indian and the Horse (University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1955), explains that the Shoshone horses had to have been introduced well before 1700. Spanish horses couldn't have gotten up there that quickly, and no such horses were known to the Spanish. The American pintos and creams aren't descendant from them.

Apparently, everyone is just guessing about who, how and when the horse came to the Americas.

I'm not exactly sure how these DNA findings help or hurt the theory.

Could the American mustangs that are related to the wild and primitive Sorraia horse be due to Sorraia being most likely a direct descendant of the ancestral horses, and could have been closely related to the original Native American horses? As I've understood that the original native American horses were the ancestors of the modern horses. Thus bringing support to the theory that the original America horse survived, and it DNA lives today in the American Mustang?

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Fascinating topic.

I have often wondered how "horse culture" could have developed as quickly as we are encouraged to believe it did. It never made sense to me.

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if we are to believe the land bridge theory, coming from asia, then it seems a great disconnect to say those people did not have a horse or some close kin to the horse.

I didn't think of that. Though I believe the land bridge was gone when the original horses were believed to become extinct, but I suppose contact with Imperial Chinese fleets afterward could have also yielded a reintroduction of horses... That theory would be a simpler explanation to the question of why the some American Mustangs aren't related to Spanish horses, why the Indians think there were horses there before Columbus, the ancient art with horses, the great numbers of primitive wild horses in great numbers in North America so soon after Columbus made contact. I suppose could be chalked up as an equally reasonable theory, just a likely as the theory that the original American horse didn't go extinct. Which, brings me again as to how the horse DNA test results might be relevant. I'm not sure how these DNA results should be interpreted.

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Great post Ray. I have always thought this line of research needed and deserved more attention. I live in the great plains. A small town that is very close to the border of Iowa (I live on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River). There are many Native American Indian tribes here and speaking with some your conclusions are correct that they all claim they have had the horse for ever.

edited to add; That is a good link rcrocket, thanks.

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This article in Gavin Meinzes files argues that the Nez Perce horse stock came from Pre-Columbian stock.


The development of a Native Horse Culture was already well established before the Spaniards brought their own horses into the Southwest – Gunnar Thompson

There you go- now we're talkin'!

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I thought Gavin Menzies' stuff was thoroughly disproven?


In 2004, historian Robert Finlay severely criticized Menzies in the Journal of World History for his "reckless manner of dealing with evidence" that led him to propose hypotheses "without a shred of proof".[6] Finlay wrote:

Unfortunately, this reckless manner of dealing with evidence is typical of 1421, vitiating all its extraordinary claims: the voyages it describes never took place, Chinese information never reached Prince Henry and Columbus, and there is no evidence of the Ming fleets in newly discovered lands. The fundamental assumption of the book—that Zhu Di dispatched the Ming fleets because he had a "grand plan", a vision of charting the world and creating a maritime empire spanning the oceans—is simply asserted by Menzies without a shred of proof ... The reasoning of 1421 is inexorably circular, its evidence spurious, its research derisory, its borrowings unacknowledged, its citations slipshod, and its assertions preposterous ... Examination of the book's central claims reveals they are uniformly without substance.[26]

From the wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_Menzies

Not trying to stick in anyone's side. I promise, I'm just curious. I mean, I definitely think it's possible. It seems kinda weird to think that only the main sea-faring visitors to the New World (Outside of Lehi and his family ;)) would have been Europeans.

Can anyone else chime in?

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There you go- now we're talkin'!

Well, you have to be careful. Diffusionists are an enthusiastic lot and generally derided.

Interestingly, John Sorenson is a diffusionist but is fairly well respected. He's published one work that I have, which is pretty boring stuff, but which documents diffusion of all sorts of plant and animal material.

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Diffusionists are an enthusiastic lot and generally derided.

Hey, I'll settle for "derided".

It beats "rolling on the floor, laughing" which is what I am used to! ;)

When you see what the Polynesians were capable of in canoes, I am not about to say that anything is "impossible"!

Just the Pacific Ocean? No problem! And the Atlantic? Child's play! ;)

Seriously- the same folks who bring you evolution of the human brain think that given millions of motivated people over hundreds of millions, if not billions, of "people years"- somebody is not going to get over an ocean?

It's just not reasonable to accept that no one ever did it! And if they did it, they had to be eating something on the way - like chicken, other animals, crops, etc.

And after making it- how anxious would YOU be to get back in the boat and head for home?

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